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Australia Why you should consider an forgotten early favourite this year

19:15  02 november  2020
19:15  02 november  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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From a highly-rated European raider to a tough Aussie mare, a precocious Irish youngster to the big omen bet and a country-trained bolter - Tuesday's Melbourne Cup is a minefield for the millions of people trying to pick a winner.

Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has the top two runners with bookmakers in Tiger Moth and Anthony Van Dyck, but there's at least five other runners that could yet challenge for favouritism in late betting on Tuesday.

Local hopes Verry Elleegant, Surprise Baby and Russian Camelot have plenty of backers, as do the recent import Sir Dragonet and popular English stayer Prince of Arran.

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Former top jockey and now racing pundit Simon Marshall believes you can narrow the 24-horse field down to ten winning chances: the seven mentioned above plus rough hopes Persan, Steel Prince and Twilight Payment.

At the top of the pile he puts Tiger Moth, believing it can follow in the hoof prints of other rising four-year-olds from Europe in taking out Australia's biggest race.

Rekindling did it 2017, Cross Counter in 2018 and Il Paradiso almost made it three in a row when he was narrowly beaten last year.

a man and a woman standing in front of a store: A racegoer places a bet during Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington racecourse in 2017 © Provided by Daily Mail A racegoer places a bet during Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington racecourse in 2017 a person riding a horse in a field: Stablemates Anthony Van Dyck (left) and Tiger Moth (right) train together at Werribee on Monday. The Aidan O'Brien gallopers are the top two fancies in betting for the Melbourne Cup © Provided by Daily Mail Stablemates Anthony Van Dyck (left) and Tiger Moth (right) train together at Werribee on Monday. The Aidan O'Brien gallopers are the top two fancies in betting for the Melbourne Cup

It is belief in this four-year-olds precedent that has form analysts backing Tiger Moth, despite the fact he has only had four races in his life - a level of inexperience not seen in a Melbourne Cup winner for over a century.

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'History would say, with the likes of Cross Counter and Il Paradiso last year, that the Northern Hemisphere four-year-olds, getting in with their light weight, are strong chances,' Marshall told Daily Mail Australia.

'(The inexperience) is not ideal but you just have to trust Aidan O’Brien’s team that he’s the right horse for this race.

'He will have to break all records, but he won by four lengths last start against a real quality field, and before that he was second in an Irish Derby.'

Tiger Moth's stablemate Anthony Van Dyck is a more mature prospect, and has the benefit of a local run, having run an impressive second to Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup on an unsuitable soft track.

He will have to carry 58.5kgs to victory - something last done by Think Big in 1975 - but has drawn ideally in barrier 3, and he has the services of jockey Hugh Bowman - the man who guided Winx to most of her record-breaking tally of wins.

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'This is the highest-rated stayer to ever come over for the Melbourne Cup,' Marshall said.

'In the Caulfield Cup he took it right up to Veerry Elleegant and pushed her all the way, and his European form suggests that with a good barrier he’s going to be in this a long way and he will be able to carry that weight.'

Verry Elleegant, the Sydney mare who beat him at Caulfield, is again one of his main rivals.

a person riding a horse: Verry Elleegant returns to the winner's circle after victory in the Caulfield Cup. The gritty mare is among the leading local chances to win the Melbourne Cup © Provided by Daily Mail Verry Elleegant returns to the winner's circle after victory in the Caulfield Cup. The gritty mare is among the leading local chances to win the Melbourne Cup a group of people sitting in the grass: Racegoers enjoy the atmosphere, and a range of beverages, after the 2019 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse © Provided by Daily Mail Racegoers enjoy the atmosphere, and a range of beverages, after the 2019 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse

She has had four starts this spring - all of them at the elite Group One level - and won three of them, but the 3200-metre distance of the Cup is an unknown for her, and a challenge for a mare who can run over-enthusiastically early in races.

'If you’re including Anthony Van Dyck, you have to include her,' Marshall said.

'Her racing manners are a bit of a question mark. She’s worth a punt because she’s just going so well but will she run out 3200 metres? It'll take a gifted ride.'

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Verry Elleegant's trainer Chris Waller - who prepared Winx - is still looking for his first Melbourne Cup victory, but Russian Camelot's trainer Danny O'Brien is still basking in last year's victory with Vow and Declare.

O'Brien will have three runners in the race, and Russian Camelot stands out at his top chance.

The four-year-old was installed as Melbourne Cup favourite after winning the South Australian Derby in brilliant style back in May, and although his form has been excellent on paper this spring - one win and three placings all at Group One level - he has lost some support in betting markets.

He was outpaced at the end of the Cox Plate, and that is perhaps excusable given he was being trained toward the long distance of the Cup, but Marshall would like to see jockey Damien Oliver relax the horse more and settle further back in the field.

'I would just like to see him ridden a bit quieter,' Marshall said. 'His best run was in SA Derby when he was ridden at the back, whereas he’s been ridden up on the speed every start this preparation.'

One horse that will definitely be ridden quietly and trying to finish off hard is Surprise Baby, the Horsham-trained gelding who will be ridden by last year's winning jockey Craig Williams.

He rattled home down the outside in last year's Cup but the finishing line came a bit too early, just as he was about to overhaul the placegetters.

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'He was very unlucky in a slowly run race last year,' Marshall said. 'He flew home and ran the fastest final furlong.

'He has his hoof on the till. He's a bigger stronger horse than last year, and I don’t think it’ll be slowly run this year, I think there’ll be genuine tempo.'

a person riding on the back of a brown horse: Jamie Kah has been the dominant jockey in Melbourne this season and she will ride Prince of Arran in the Melbourne Cup. A female jockey, barrier one, and Prince in the horse's name was the same combination that saw Prince of Penzance win in 2015 © Provided by Daily Mail Jamie Kah has been the dominant jockey in Melbourne this season and she will ride Prince of Arran in the Melbourne Cup. A female jockey, barrier one, and Prince in the horse's name was the same combination that saw Prince of Penzance win in 2015

The top Melbourne training team of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have three runners in the race, and the standout is the recently imported Sir Dragonet.

In his first start for the stable, he stormed to victory in the Cox Plate and veteran jockey Glen Boss said the stallion was the best chance to complete the Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup double since he rode the great Makybe Diva to the third of her hat-trick of Cup wins in 2005.

'His gallop-on after winning the Cox Plate over 2040 metres was very strong, which suggests he’ll improve over longer,' Marshall said. 'The Melbourne Cup was his target, so to pick up a Cox Plate along the way is impressive.

'Don’t be worried by the 3200 metres – he’s been tested over 2,400 and he will definitely be a danger.'

However Marshall believes Persan, another of the Maher/Eustace runners, looms as the best chance at long odds.

The four-year-old stallion has been in training since April, but shows no sign of tiring, having either won or finished second in all of his past nine races, and gets into the race with the minimum weight of 51 kilograms.

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'His form is just outstanding and the Maher-Eustace team’s record with stayers is amazing,' Marshall said. 'He has a really good grounding as a lightweight Cups horse and everything about his form indicates he will run out the 3200.'

Prince of Arran is the other runner Marshall says must be rated a winning chance.

a woman walking down the street talking on a cell phone: Australia fell in love with 'Fairy Floss Girl' who decided to take a bite out of the sugary treat on Oaks Day © Provided by Daily Mail Australia fell in love with 'Fairy Floss Girl' who decided to take a bite out of the sugary treat on Oaks Day a couple of people that are standing in the grass: The Melbourne Cup will be remarkably different this year because of the health pandemic © Provided by Daily Mail The Melbourne Cup will be remarkably different this year because of the health pandemic

The English stayer ticks all the boxes: an inside barrier, proven two-mile form after running third and second in this race in the past two years, an in-form and confident jockey in Jamie Kah, and a strong performance last start when he surged into fourth place in the Caulfield Cup.

Beyond those chances, Marshall rates Geelong Cup winner Steel Prince as a value bet, along with Twilight Payment who led last year's race for a long way and has shown brilliant recent form back in Ireland.

Simon Marshall's tip: Tiger Moth.

Simon Marshall's suggested bet: A same-race multi with Sportsbet - Tiger Moth to finish first or second, with Verry Elleegant and Persan to finish in the top four.

Chris Lines' tip: Russian Camelot.

Chris Lines' suggested bet: Place bet on any of Steel Prince, The Chosen One or Avilius.

Who's your money on? Your comprehensive guide to every runner in the Melbourne Cup and which horses could make you a fortune

Having a flutter on the Melbourne Cup? Picked up a runner in the sweep? Or do you just want to sound like an expert when giving your tip? Here's your guide to every runner in Tuesday's big race.

1. ANTHONY VAN DYCK (IRE) 58.5kgs. Barrier 3. Odds: $9

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien (Ireland). Jockey: Hugh Bowman.

The Irish stallion is aiming to become the first top-weight to win the Cup since Makybe Diva in 2005. His strong second behind Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup was impressive given the weight he carried and it was on unsuitable soft ground. Will go better on Tuesday's good track, draws perfectly in barrier 3 and has Winx's former jockey Hugh Bowman. Hard to beat, but the weight is the only question mark.

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a group of people posing for the camera: TAB expects to process over 100,000 wagers a minute at peak times on Tuesday, its biggest trading day of the year © Provided by Daily Mail TAB expects to process over 100,000 wagers a minute at peak times on Tuesday, its biggest trading day of the year a person riding a horse jumping over a fence: Jockey Hugh Bowman rides Anthony Van Dyck in trackwork leading into the Melbourne Cup. Bowman knows all about big races after guiding Winx to most of her record-breaking tally of wins © Provided by Daily Mail Jockey Hugh Bowman rides Anthony Van Dyck in trackwork leading into the Melbourne Cup. Bowman knows all about big races after guiding Winx to most of her record-breaking tally of wins

2. AVILIUS (GBR) 57kgs. Barrier 10. Odds: $61

Trainer: James Cummings (Sydney). Jockey: John Allen.

Trainer James Cummings is trying to add to the record of his granddad Bart, who won the Melbourne Cup a remarkable 12 times. The powerful Godolphin stable (which won the race in 2018 with Cross Counter) has not sent any runners from Europe this year due to Covid-19, so all hopes are pinned on their Australian operation. He was unlucky in the Caulfield Cup when blocked for a run in the straight, but would prefer a softer track.

3. VOW AND DECLARE (AUS) 57kgs. Barrier 4. Odds $67

Trainer: Danny O'Brien (Melbourne). Jockey: Jamie Mott.

The defending champion will be trying to be the first horse since Makybe Diva to win successive Cups. Carries an extra five kilograms this time, and his form in three runs this spring has been ordinary. He is proven over the two-mile distance unlike many of this year's favourites, but would need to lift significantly on his recent performances.

4. MASTER OF REALITY (IRE) 56kgs. Barrier 11. Odds $26

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien (Ireland). Jockey: Ben Melham.

Crossed the line second in the Cup last year but was relegated to fourth on protest. He's only had four runs since, and no lead-up races in Australia, so difficult to line up his form. Should definitely last the two-mile distance and has the right connections: Irish trainer Joseph O'Brien won this race in 2017 with Rekindling, and owner Lloyd Williams has won it seven times.

5. SIR DRAGONET (IRE) 55.5kgs. Barrier 14. Odds $10

Trainer: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (Melbourne). Jockey: Glen Boss.

Superb win in the Cox Plate when he burst through at the top of the straight and ran on in a style that indicates he'll comfortably get the extra distance of the Cup. Jockey Glen Boss - who rode Makybe Diva to her Melbourne Cup hat trick - believes this stallion is the best-credentialled horse since the Diva to do the Plate-Cup double. No wins on good tracks though, which is a query.

a dog lying on a sandy beach: Trainer Ciaron Maher takes Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet for a roll in the sand at the beach as they prepare for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup © Provided by Daily Mail Trainer Ciaron Maher takes Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet for a roll in the sand at the beach as they prepare for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup

6. TWILIGHT PAYMENT (IRE) 55.5kgs. Barrier 12. Odds $34

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien (Ireland). Jockey: Jye McNeil.

Led last year's Cup for a long way, and fought on well despite his gut-busting run. Beat his stablemate Master of Reality by eight lengths in a race in Ireland two starts back, so hard to see why he's at longer odds than that horse here. Again likely to be among the leaders entering the home straight, but can he hold off the fast-finishers this time?

7. VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ) 55.5kgs. Barrier 15. Odds $13

Trainer: Chris Waller (Sydney). Jockey: Mark Zahra.

Has strong claims to being the best horse in Australia, and has already won three Group 1 races this spring, capped with a trademark tough victory in the Caulfield Cup. No doubting her quality and grit, but the two-mile distance could present a challenge for a mare who can take her time to settle in races. Chris Waller is the most successful trainer in the country, but has never won the Melbourne Cup.

a person riding a horse in a field: Verry Elleegant (red silks) narrowly defeats Anthony Van Dyck in the Caulfield Cup. The mare is among the leading local chances on Tuesday, while the English stallion is again one of her main challengers © Provided by Daily Mail Verry Elleegant (red silks) narrowly defeats Anthony Van Dyck in the Caulfield Cup. The mare is among the leading local chances on Tuesday, while the English stallion is again one of her main challengers

8. MUSTAJEER (GBR) 55kgs. Barrier 2. Odds $101

Trainer: Kris Lees (Sydney). Jockey: Michael Rodd.

He ran pretty well in the Caulfield Cup, being right up with the leaders for a long way, but probably lacks the quality of some of his rivals here. Draws nicely in barrier two, which should allow him a comfortable run throughout but it would be a surprise to see him matching pace in the final stages.

9. STRATUM ALBION (GBR) 55kgs. Barrier 9. Odds $51

Trainer: Willie Mullins (Ireland). Jockey: Jordan Childs.

The Irish hurdle racer showed he can run well on the flat when he finished second at Group 2 level in the UK last start. He'll have no problem with the distance - he might even fancy another lap - but will need a fast tempo and a genuine staying contest if he is to contend.

10. DASHING WILLOUGHBY (GBR) 54.5kgs. Barrier 19. Odds $101

Trainer: Anthony Balding (England). Jockey: Michael Walker.

Led the Caulfield Cup before folding to finish a very long last. Seemed he might have been injured, but stable insists he's fine. From a wide gate, he'll likely follow the same pattern and get to the front of the field to give his backers a show, but deserves his 100/1 odds.

11. FINCHE (GBR) 54.5kgs. Barrier 6. Odds $19

Trainer: Chris Waller (Sydney). Jockey: James McDonald.

He was beaten less than two lengths in this race last year, and from a good barrier, he should be up among the leaders again. A long-striding type who looks at home on this expansive track and must be among the leading local hopes. The combination of trainer and jockey is a crack combination in Sydney racing.

a young girl standing next to a tree: Jamie Kah (pictured) is aiming to follow Michelle Payne as female jockeys to win the Melbourne Cup, and just like her close friend, she's drawn in barrier one upon Prince of Arran © Provided by Daily Mail Jamie Kah (pictured) is aiming to follow Michelle Payne as female jockeys to win the Melbourne Cup, and just like her close friend, she's drawn in barrier one upon Prince of Arran

12. PRINCE OF ARRAN (GBR) 54.5kgs. Barrier 1. Odds $12

Trainer: Charlie Fellowes (England). Jockey: Jamie Kah.

The omen bet. Barrier 1, female jockey is the same combination that saw Prince of Penzance win at huge odds in 2015, and they even have similar names. A big finisher who ran 3rd in the Cup in 2018 and second last year. Showed he was set for another strong run this year by putting in a powerful finish in the Caulfield Cup.

13. SURPRISE BABY (NZ) 54.5kgs. Barrier 7. Odds $9.50

Trainer: Paul Preusker (Horsham). Jockey: Craig Williams.

Flew home down the outside in last year's Cup and would have won with a couple more bounds. Punters have backed him in strongly for that reason. Top jockey Craig Williams is looking for back-to-back Cup wins. Should settle near the rear of the field, and watch for him unwind another barnstorming finish.

a group of men riding on the back of a horse: Vow and Declare (obscured) gets home in a blanket finish to the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Jockey Craig Williams has switched mounts for this year's event and instead will ride Surprise Baby, whose head is seen at far left as he flew home last year © Provided by Daily Mail Vow and Declare (obscured) gets home in a blanket finish to the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Jockey Craig Williams has switched mounts for this year's event and instead will ride Surprise Baby, whose head is seen at far left as he flew home last year

14. KING OF LEOGRANCE (FRA) 53.5kgs. Barrier 18. Odds $51

Trainer: Danny O'Brien (Melbourne). Jockey: Damien Lane.

Comes off a third-place finish in the Geelong Cup when he faded late, but should be fitter for that run. An awkward gate means there is a risk of him being caught wide, but he's consistent and has won the Adelaide Cup so should run out the two miles. Rough place chance.

15. RUSSIAN CAMELOT (IRE) 53.5kgs. Barrier 16. Odds $13

Trainer: Danny O'Brien (Melbourne). Jockey: Damien Oliver.

Was the favourite in early Cup betting markets, and has been impressive with a 2-2-1 record from his past five runs, all at Group 1 level. The 4yo was overrun in the Cox Plate, but the Cup has been his target all along. Has the right man in the saddle in three-time winner Damien Oliver and recent history of this race has favoured  younger horses.

16. STEEL PRINCE (IRE) 53.5kgs. Barrier 21. Odds $41

Trainer: Anthony Freedman (Melbourne). Jockey: William Pike.

The Geelong Cup winner has had his share of injury setbacks, but is at his peak now. A bit one-paced but he's a tough customer who will keep on pushing to the end and was only beaten two lengths in this race last year. Barrier 21 looks bad, but did provide last year's winner.

17. THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ) 53.5kgs. Barrier 5. Odds $41

Trainer: Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman (NZ). Jockey: Damien Stackhouse.

Was at big odds in the Caulfield Cup but led until the final 100 metres and finished only a length behind the winner. Likely to get a soft run from a good barrier and if he can find a gap entering the straight, could be a genuine threat. Has run second in a Sydney Cup on a bog track, so he's got the stamina.

a man and a woman posing for a picture: All of the Melbourne Cup celebrations will be done outside of Flemington Racecourse this year © Provided by Daily Mail All of the Melbourne Cup celebrations will be done outside of Flemington Racecourse this year

18. ASHRUN (FRA) 53kgs. Barrier 24. Odds $23

Trainer: Andreas Wohler (Germany). Jockey: Declan Bates.

Snared the last spot in the field by winning with a whopping 61kgs on Saturday, so he'll appreciate a much lighter weight on Tuesday. Andreas Wohler is the only foreign trainer to make the trip here and even put up with two weeks in quarantine! He trained the 2014 Cup winner Protectionist. From the outside gate, he's likely to settle at the back.

19: WARNING (AUS) 53kgs. Barrier 8. Odds $51

Trainer: Anthony Freedman (Melbourne). Jockey: Luke Currie.

Won the Victorian Derby on this track last year, and was only a length behind Verry Elleegant two starts back, but he was then well beaten by the same mare in the Caulfield Cup. A sentimental hope, as he'll carry the same colours as the popular 1992 winner Subzero who died recently.

20. ETAH JAMES (NZ) 52.5kgs. Barrier 22. Odds $201

Trainer: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (Melbourne). Jockey: Billy Egan.

The outsider of the field, but is one of few runners proven over two miles, having won the Sydney Cup. Likely to push on from his wide gate and challenge for the lead and comes from an astute stable, but would be a surprise to see her in the finish.

a person riding a horse: Irish galloper Tiger Moth gets accustomed to life in Melbourne ahead of the big race. He's only had four race starts in his life but is among the leading fancy in betting markets © Provided by Daily Mail Irish galloper Tiger Moth gets accustomed to life in Melbourne ahead of the big race. He's only had four race starts in his life but is among the leading fancy in betting markets

21. TIGER MOTH (IRE) 52.5kgs. Barrier 23. Odds $8.50

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien (Ireland). Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy.

A powerful win last start in Ireland, and became Cup favourite on the basis that European three-year-olds won this race in 2017 and 2018. He's only had four starts in his career, and you have to go back more than a century to find a Cup winner with such little experience, but Aidan O'Brien wouldn't have sent him if he didn't think he could handle it. Likely to get back from his wide gate but jockey Kerrin McEvoy has won this race three times.

22. OCEANEX (NZ) 51.5kgs. Barrier 17. Odds $91

Trainer: Mick Price (Melbourne). Jockey: Dean Yendall.

Took a late lead and finished third in the Moonee Valley Cup at her last run. A genuine stayer, but there have been questions about her fitness leading into this, and it'd take a trusting type to back her here.

23. MIAMI BOUND (NZ) 51kgs. Barrier 13. Odds $41

Trainer: Danny O'Brien (Melbourne). Jockey: Daniel Moor.

The winner of the Oaks on this track last year, and belatedly rediscovered that form when she won the Moonee Valley Cup comfortably last start. Her chances would improve with any rain, but with a light weight she could provide value to trifectas.

24. PERSAN (AUS) 51kgs. Barrier 20. Odds $41

Trainer: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace. Jockey: Michael Dee.

Amazingly consistent horse, who has finished first or second in all of his past nine races and won strongly last start. Been in training a long time, having started this campaign in April, but has had a month of rest, and gets into this race on the minimum weight.

Read more

AFL Trades: Is it Bulldogs or bust for Adam Treloar? .
If Collingwood move on Adam Treloar before the close of the 2020 AFL trade period, it seems increasingly likely that his destination will be the Western Bulldogs. It was reported on Tuesday afternoon that after days of speculation, Treloar has met with the club and undergone a medical, with results to be known today. That medical may be the trigger for the Bulldogs to make a decision that could shape the rest of the trade period, putting other deals into motion – or leaving them hanging. But putting the medical aside for the moment, it’s prudent to ask if Adam Treloar is really the answer for the Bulldogs.

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